Observations: Jets at Bengals
Eric Weeks , TheJetsBlog.com
For the first time in several months the Jets went head-to-head with different colored jerseys and the results were an assortment of odds and ends that were both good and bad. Although I cannot match Bent’s prowess and break it down BGA-style, here are some observations I made during the game.
Quarterbacks: We all knew this would be the topic of discussion coming in and out of the game so lets just get to it. When Mark Sanchez did have time to throw he looked pretty solid against the 1s and there were a couple of instances of his progression: stepping up in the pocket and eventually “channeling his inner Tebow” en route to a first down. He also had a nice little laser to Patrick Turner, threading the ball between Bengal defenders. It’s a work in progress but Sanchez, to me, looked more comfortable than years past. After watching Tebow, I can see why the Jets were “excited” to bring him in. While his throwing ability is wildly inconsistent, and I contend he nearly got Stephen Hill killed on that first down pass, his running ability is uncanny and adds another dimension to the offense and that alone can help keep defenses honest.
Running backs: It wasn’t exactly a great performance by the running backs but with the state of that line it’s not entirely any fault of their own. Greene had a few nice runs but struggled to find the hole with the run blocking gone awry. Bilal Powell saw quite a few reps and looked solid on some runs and terrible on others–he may be on to something but right now he needs to establish consistency. Terrence Ganaway got a few looks but it was mostly during the debacle that was a combination of the second and third string offensive line. The man of the night was Joe McKnight who had some nice runs and showed explosiveness. He also led the team in receiving with 3 catches for 24 yards.
Wide receivers: With Holmes and Kerley out I was hoping for a revelation to unveil itself but that never really happened. Patrick Turner was hit early and often by Sanchez but later disappeared. Stephen Hill had a couple catches but dropped an easy third down conversion pass and Chaz Schilens was targeted once, by Tebow, but the throw was way over his head. Jordan White saw some targets but couldn’t hang on to one pass as he was wrestled to the ground. One particular player stood out late in the game, receiver Royce Pollard who had a nice 13 yard gain on a pass from Greg McElroy and showed some return ability on the punt team though it seemed they were trying to push White for the PR role for most of the night.
Tight ends: Very quiet night for the tight ends with no one recording a statistic. Jeff Cumberland was the only end targeted and his run blocking left little to be desired. Keller whiffed on a block and I can’t speak for the rest of the crew but overall, not a good start.
Offensive line: I almost thought it was mid-2011 again because the offensive line looked absolutely sluggish the entire game from the 1s right down to the 3s as evidenced by the five sacks it gave the Bengals’ defense. I noted on Twitter last night that at least Sparano yells when the offense starts slow however, that serves as little consolation for the display last night. I found myself almost wondering aloud where Wayne Hunter was because Austin Howard didn’t exactly light it up starting at right tackle. Hopefully it’s just rust but when you’re only missing one starter, you need to step it up on the line. You guys have been with each other for two years now.
Defensive line: I promise to shut up about it after this rant but it bears mentioning that Mike Florio unashamedly published an article two nights ago detailing Melvin Ingram’s fine performance while goading Jets fans about passing up such a talent. Well, allow me to retort. Quinton Coples made me a bit nervous as I watched him whiff on dragging down the Bengals’ back in the backfield but, he made up for it totaling five tackles, three more than Ingram and two of which were for a loss, a pass defensed, which Ingram did not have, and to wrap it up, literally, a sack despite plainly visible fatigue, surpassing Ingram again. And if that weren’t enough, Coples just showed us more than Gholston did in his entire career. In all seriousness though it was good to see Coples fill the stat sheet after a relatively quiet camp but what really stood out was his ability to make plays even when he looked like he need a 24 hour break–he may or may not take plays off but you don’t make your way through the ranks of the NFL without showing resiliency and Coples had that last night.
As for the rest of the line, Wilkerson had a couple of nice tackles and continues to look poised for a breakout season. The veteran Jay Richardson turned some heads racking up four tackles and a sack–he’ll warrant consideration in the weeks to follow. Kenrick Ellis reminded us all he’s a force to be reckoned with. He looked solid filling in for Pouha and will likely establish himself this season. Damon Harrison recorded a tackle while MTV did not record a stat. DeVito was relatively quiet with a tackle while Marcus Dixon was responsible for the other half a sack with McIntyre.
Linebackers: When they weren’t getting burned in coverage, the linebackers looked relatively decent. Despite offseason training, Bart Scott did not look much faster when he was burned on a third down conversion by Cincinnati. I’m hoping it’s just rust but it’s usually never a good sign when your linebackers get burned more than twice. Demario Davis stood out totaling five tackles, one for a loss while David Harris and Nick Bellore each had four. Bellore though was somewhat responsible for the Bengal’s drive that led to a touchdown as he was given play calling duties. Garrett McIntyre had a solid outing total four tackles and half a sack with one QB hit for good measure. Steiny mentioned that McIntyre had been working on improving his pass rush and run stopping abilities in the offseason and the early results have shown. Pace looked effective and Mauga had some moments. There was a Marcus Dowtin sighting as he recorded a solo tackle while recent new comer Damario Ambrose had a tackle for a loss late in the game but also had a penalty on specials.
Defensive backs: The secondary was mostly a mixed bag of results. Revis and Cromartie didn’t have too many issues and Revis managed to get his hand a near touchdown by AJ Green. Revis doing Revis things. Despite being on a pitch count, LaRon Landry recorded a tackle while his partner Yeremiah Bell displayed a lot of aggressiveness, despite his 34 years of age, when he was in the game. Josh Bush recorded a tackle but had a so-so night while Antonio Allen tallied three tackles and continues to consistently pop up on the radar. Eric Smith displayed some nice coverage on a third down pass but was injured. X-rays of his knee and leg were negative and he’s currently day-to-day. Ryan Steed record a tackle while Julian Posey had two but had a couple of miscues as well. Trufant and Lankster led the crew with six tackles apiece but it was Lankster who notably stood out with a few nice plays while Trufant, despite his tenacity, struggled due to his small stature.
Special Teams: This wasn’t exactly a great way to kickoff Westhoff’s retirement party. Both Folk and Brown hit their lone field goals from 42 and 38 yards out respectively while T.J. Conley had some really nice punts save for one that was off the side of his foot. From there though, it went downhill. Travis Baltz had a really, really, really bad punt on his first try and didn’t come close to matching Conley’s average of 42.0 (to Baltz’s 34.5). Meanwhile, Conley nearly got killed after a jailbreak up the middle right on the Jets’ own goal line saw the Bengals score on the block. Jordan White muffed a kickoff in the end zone only to take it out for short yardage. Kyle Wilson served as the PR once taking it six yards.